Features

The Friday Five: 5 Things NLSC THRILLHO Learned in 2K Pro-Am

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that NLSC THRILLHO has collectively learned playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

Even though we’ve cut back on our 2K Pro-Am sessions in NBA 2K17, the members of NLSC THRILLHO still get together once a week, or at least once a fortnight, to play a few games. As Arcane and I have mentioned in recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve had a couple of really fun sessions recently including one where we finished the night on a five game winning streak, but also a couple of very frustrating ones. Last week’s session was an example of the latter, leading us to call it a night after only two games.

At this point, we’ve played over 470 games, which is the equivalent of about five and three quarter seasons (or a little under two and a half seasons, adjusting the twenty minute games for regulation length). NLSC THRILLHO certainly isn’t one of the top-ranked squads, but with all those games, we do at least have a lot of experience under our belts. To that end, we’ve undoubtedly learned a thing or two about the mode, which has given us a new perspective as we look ahead to NBA 2K18. If I may speak on behalf of NLSC THRILLHO for a moment, these are probably the five most important lessons we’ve learned in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

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Wayback Wednesday: Be a Pro in NBA Live 09

Be a Pro Indicator Legend in NBA Live 09

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Be a Pro in NBA Live 09.

When you think of early incarnations of single player career modes in basketball games, which titles come to mind? The Life in Sony’s NBA series, or the debut of My Player in NBA 2K10, are probably the first two that you think of. However, right around the same time, NBA Live was starting to make some inroads on adding a single player mode of its own. Before Rising Star in NBA Live 14, before Become Legendary in the ill-fated NBA Elite 11, EA Sports were experimenting with career mode concepts in the form of Be a Pro, which only appeared in NBA Live 09.

Aside from being noteworthy as NBA Live’s first attempt at implementing a single player career mode, Be a Pro is interesting to reflect upon as it differed greatly between the new gen and old gen versions of NBA Live 09, and not in the way you might expect. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Suggestion for Modding, Moving Forward

Enhancements to in-game creation tools would help with modding.

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a suggestion for our approach to modding, as look ahead to future releases.

Recently, I’ve written a couple of articles that have taken a look at how modding has changed, and some of the biggest developments that have helped the modding community to grow and thrive. Aside from reflecting on the past and talking about noteworthy milestones, both articles have also had an eye towards the future of modding. In that regard, I believe there is inspiration to be found, as well as a few important lessons that can be learned, when it comes to the history of our modding community. A little perspective and reflection can help us as we look to move forward.

There’s no guarantee that future NBA 2K games will be as moddable as releases on the previous generation, or that NBA Live will return to the PC platform. Even if either of those scenarios is actually feasible, there’s a strong likelihood that it won’t happen with this year’s releases. With that in mind, I think it’s important that we prepare ourselves for the possibility that we’ll be facing the same challenges and limitations that have presented themselves in the past couple of years, and be ready to work around them as best as possible. In particular, there’s one suggestion that I believe we should keep in mind.

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The Sunday Substitute: Player Upgrade Features in NBA Live 16

The week is in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for the Sunday Substitute! It’s the article where I get some valuable minutes while the star is resting on the bench. I might not have the time to do this every week, but I like to think I’m still making a contribution to the team. Since it looks like NBA Live 18 will be released this year, I figured it would be a fantastic opportunity to look back at NBA Live 16 and determine what features are worth salvaging. For this article, I’m going to focus on the player upgrade system.

I really love the player creation and upgrade system in NBA Live 16. It began for me with the most seamless face scan I have ever done in any video game. I’m not sure how everyone else went with it, but I know that my player in NBA Live 16 looks much more like me than any player I’ve created in the NBA 2K series. But my appreciation for player customisation in NBA Live 16 has gone far beyond that since I bought a full copy of the game.

Not only is the player upgrade system an excellent feature in NBA Live 16, but I believe it is superior to that of NBA 2K16, and even NBA 2K17. I know it’s a big call – since the NBA 2K games have the advantage in most areas – but I think NBA Live 16 had some intuitive features when it comes to upgrading created players. So, here are the player upgrade features that I not only love in NBA Live 16, but I think should be considered for NBA Live 18.

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The Friday Five: 5 Biggest Developments in Modding

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of what I believe are the five biggest developments in modding.

I’ve said it many, many times before, but our modding community has done some great things over the years. Of course, creating all those amazing mods hasn’t always been easy, and in the case of some games, it’s taken a while after their release to develop all the necessary tools. Even today, there are obstacles that make modding difficult at times, and there are some things that we used to be able to do that we presently cannot. Obviously, the goal here is to do the best we can with the tools at our disposal, and keep trying to develop new methods and resources that will help us to tinker with basketball video games as desired.

With that in mind, we only need to look back at the major developments in modding to find inspiration. As a community, we’ve been able to overcome a lot of obstacles in being able to modify NBA Live and NBA 2K, and in one or two instances, the developers themselves have helped us along the way. In the spirit of recognising all the advancements in modding, and hopefully providing some inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing, I’d like to discuss five major milestones that I believe have marked some of the most important developments in the hobby. Without them, modding would certainly be far more limited, if not impossible.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

Basketball in the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07.

Over the years, several amazing mods have been released in our community for both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Certain mods stand out as landmark releases though, delighting the community and inspiring other modders to produce great work of their own. Since it’s the tenth anniversary of NBA Live 07, and today also marks the 38th birthday of cover player Tracy McGrady, I thought that I’d talk about one of the most significant mods made for the game: the Supreme Update Mod. Undoubtedly one of the best projects to come out of our community, it’s about time that I profile it in a Wayback Wednesday feature.

It was one of the most comprehensive updates for a PC version of NBA Live, and a great example of teamwork and cooperation in the modding community, as well as technical innovation. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Green Releases in NBA 2K

Green Releases in NBA 2K17

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the future of green releases in NBA 2K.

A few weeks back, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang made a candid statement about the future of green releases. Beluba’s goal is to wean basketball gamers off the concept of green releases being guaranteed baskets, in order to strive for more realism and competitive balance. We’ve seen NBA 2K17 take a few steps in that direction, with several tuning updates focused on shooting mechanics being pushed through since the game’s release. Generally speaking, those updates have sought to reduce the number of green releases by making them more difficult to achieve, tweak the percentages of near-perfect releases, or re-balance the shooting in some other way.

Results have been mixed, and a lot of gamers have expressed frustration with the constant changes to shooting in NBA 2K17. On top of some tweaks seemingly being either too effective or largely ineffective, there’s been a concern that changes that are made in order to enhance the online experience are negatively affecting single player gameplay. Beyond that, opinion is divided as to whether green releases should be guaranteed baskets – assuming the attempts aren’t blocked, of course – or whether they should simply have the best odds of being made, according to a player’s ratings and attributes. I have to admit, at times I’m a little torn myself.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Creating Basketball Game Content

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five tips for anyone who wants to get involved in creating content for basketball video games.

So, you love basketball video games, and you want to create some content for or based on them. That’s great! The ratio of creators vs. consumers in any community rarely favours the creators, so any time that somebody new wants to create entertaining and informative content for basketball games, it’s most welcome. From our original content and talented modding community, to popular YouTubers and the EA Sports Game Changers, people are talking about basketball games, finding ways to help their fellow gamers enhance their experience, aiding the developers, and providing something interesting and entertaining to read or watch.

Although there are some well established platforms on which to create basketball gaming content, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To that end, I thought that I’d put together a shortlist of tips for anyone who wants to get involved in creating mods, videos, articles, and so on. Having observed what makes other people’s content successful (and in my opinion enjoyable), as well as having tried my hand at more than a couple of creative endeavours related to basketball games over the years, these are some traits and techniques that I like to keep in mind. Hopefully, some of them will be useful to aspiring content creators within the basketball gaming community.

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Wayback Wednesday: ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07

ESPN Menu in NBA Live 07

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

If I’m being completely honest, then I’ll have to admit that for a variety of reasons, I’m not the biggest fan of ESPN’s coverage of the NBA these days. They are obviously one of the league’s biggest partners though, and through ABC, their presenters have the call for the NBA Finals. Their branding is instantly recognisable to basketball fans, and it makes sense that EA Sports would also want to partner with them to bring authentic television presentation to NBA Live. It’s a relationship that began over a decade ago, with the implementation of ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

Although ESPN branding is now very prominent in NBA Live, it was a few games before it truly took over. It was a gradual transition in some respects, but as the original fifteen year agreement between the companies demonstrated, they were both in it for the long haul. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Games SHOULD Borrow Ideas

NBA Live 16: Basketball

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the issue of NBA Live and NBA 2K borrowing ideas from one another.

Fact: NBA Live has borrowed ideas from NBA 2K. Fact: NBA 2K has borrowed ideas from NBA Live. A lot of basketball gamers may be inclined to sneer and suggest that it isn’t the case, but there are numerous examples in both games that prove it to be true. Right stick dribbling controls, face scanning, temporary player cards in the team building modes…a lot of features and concepts have been adopted by one game after first appearing in another. There may be differences in the way the ideas are implemented, with each game putting their own spin on them, but the basic concept is similar to the original feature.

You might suggest that NBA Live and NBA 2K need to have something unique about the experiences they offer, or take different approaches to certain common features. That’s a fair comment, and something that I generally agree with. However, both games ultimately have the same goal: to realistically portray the sport of basketball, specifically the style we see in the NBA, and provide gamers with experiences that accurately replicate aspects of the league in detail. With a common goal and audience, it only makes sense that there’s some overlap in what both games are doing. To that end, basketball video games absolutely should borrow ideas from one another.

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The Sunday Substitute: First Impressions of NBA Playgrounds

The week is in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for the Sunday Substitute! It’s the article where I get some valuable minutes while the star is resting on the bench. I might not have the time to do this every week, but I like to think I’m still making a contribution to the team. It’s been a long time on the pine for me, but today I felt like I had to share my first impressions of NBA Playgrounds.

After mistakenly releasing a beta early, NBA Playgrounds was officially released on the 9th. If you have listened to the last few NLSC Podcasts, you would know that Andrew and I were keeping close tabs on the game, as it was looking to be the spiritual successor of games like NBA Jam and NBA Street. Fast forward to now and I have played the game for several hours. I have completed all circuits, and have leveled up Bill Laimbeer, Luis Scola and Thon Maker to the Gold level. But the question remains: with all this play I have logged, what do I actually think of the game?

I must state now that I haven’t experienced the online mode in NBA Playgrounds, so my impressions are based purely on the offline content. I’m doing this initially since online experiences have tended to skew my perceptions of other video games. I don’t want to potentially give NBA Playgrounds a bad rap because of some cheese a brat online may have exploited constantly. Ultimately, the game itself is the most important thing…at least for my initial impressions. With that out of the way, let me discuss what I have liked and haven’t liked about the game so far.

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The Friday Five: 5 Misguided Things Basketball Gamers Say

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five misguided statements that we basketball gamers are prone to making.

It’s a rare fanbase indeed that isn’t outspoken in some regard, and basketball gamers are no exception. That certainly isn’t a bad thing, of course. Whether it’s positive or negative, constructive or snarky, there’s satisfaction and catharsis in expressing yourself and sharing experiences with your fellow basketball gamers. With open lines of communication to the people creating the games, we also have an opportunity to influence their development for the better. Bottom line, a passionate and enthusiastic fanbase is always going to have something to talk about, and an assortment of strong opinions.

As a community, we have a lot of insight into basketball games, and some great ideas about the experiences that we’d like to get out of them. However, that doesn’t mean that our opinions are above the influence of bias, cynicism, or occasionally even selfishness. Logic and reason gives way to passion and emotion, and we make declarations that are definitely wide of the mark. Whether we’re criticising a game, defending a game, advocating a particular gaming style, or making sweeping declarations about the hobby, we basketball gamers are prone to making some misguided statements from time to time. Statements such as…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Mysterious 2K Insider

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the infamous 2K Insider.

When I discussed some of the most memorable characters in basketball video games, it was pointed out to me that I’d forgotten about one of the most noteworthy individuals to appear in the NBA 2K series: the 2K Insider. A mysterious person behind the scenes and in the community, the 2K Insider – known only as “Sy” – was responsible for maintaining the rosters for NBA 2K. Within the games themselves, their avatar appeared as an advisor and mentor, providing basketball insights and offering up words of encouragement, as well as critique.

The 2K Insider hasn’t been a part of the more recent NBA 2K games, as he no longer fits the tone of MyCAREER. 2K has also taken the approach of recognising all the developers, ensuring that we know who is responsible for different aspects of the games, and opening up the channels of communication for constructive feedback. The Insider was a notable figure that led to a fair amount of speculation though, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Are Two Sim NBA Video Games Enough?

Damian Lillard in NBA Live 16, a game in one of the oldest NBA video games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the number of NBA video games that are available to us.

Something that’s come up on a few times on the NLSC Podcast when we’ve been reminiscing about the old days of basketball gaming is the dwindling number of NBA video games. Although no other series has enjoyed the same longevity as NBA Live or NBA 2K, several other developers have released NBA licensed sim games over the years. Some series ran for two or three years, some skipped a year, and others didn’t get off the ground after the first game. In any case, while EA Sports and Visual Concepts remained the biggest names in the genre, some years have seen the release of several sim-oriented titles, along with the occasional arcade title here and there.

These days, NBA Live and NBA 2K stand as the only two five-on-five, sim-oriented NBA video games that are still being developed, and only 2K has an unbroken streak of annual releases over the past decade. With 2K’s dominance of the marketplace, Live’s struggles, and the lack of any other developers throwing their hat into the ring, basketball gamers are left with little choice. Saber Interactive are joining the picture with the promising NBA Playgrounds, but that’s an arcade-oriented game. As far as the sim experience is concerned, it’s fair to wonder, are two sim NBA video games enough?

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The Friday Five: 5 Best 2K Pro-Am Team Names

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of some of the best names I’ve come across while playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

I’ll be honest with you, fellow basketball gamers. A couple of things made me grumble today, and I was all ready to scathingly vent about them in this week’s Friday Five, since I didn’t already have a column prepared. However, I decided that I didn’t want to do that. It’s not because I’m afraid to share my opinions, or reluctant to stand by them. No, I simply decided that I’d grumbled enough over matters that are very trivial compared to other things that are going on in the world right now, and felt it would be better to write something more positive. Venting can be cathartic and I like covering more serious topics, but there’s a time and place for lighter discussion, too.

So, I read through my list of topic ideas, and came across one that I’d previously done a little preparation for: the five best 2K Pro-Am team names that I’ve encountered in NBA 2K17. As you may know, the official NLSC squad’s name is THRILLHO, which is a reference to a classic episode of The Simpsons. We’ve often wondered if our opponents get a kick out of seeing the name, especially given some of the dornas Arcane has created for our arena. There have definitely been a couple of team names that made us chuckle; some are quite creative, some are witty references, and a few have found a way around the profanity filter. However, these five are my favourites.

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